Editing Your Work for Better Copy
1. Think about whether you want to use British English or American English. As a general rule, it can be assumed that British writers should use British English. However, it can depend on your target audience or where the majority of your readers are based. It’s important to decide which you’ll use and stick to it. Good editing ensures you’re consistent with your choice.
For spellings, using an American ‘z’ rather than the British ‘s’ – organize vs. organise – won’t make much difference to your reader’s understanding, but be careful if they’re more familiar with Americanisms such as sidewalk and restroom. The internet has made using these a lot more common in everyday writing.
2. Edit your book a chapter at a time. For fiction, imagine each chapter as a mini-story, and see that it fits into the narrative, linking with what’s to come as well as reflecting on what happened earlier. With non-fiction, have you covered all the points you wanted to in this section, and is it clear to understand? Make sure you haven’t made a passing reference to a key idea or theory that you intend to explain fully in a later chapter or section – this can happen if you’ve cut and pasted a few paragraphs from different parts of the document.
3. Ask someone else to read it for you. They don’t necessarily need to be looking for errors, but they can give you an honest opinion on whether the story or topic flows properly. Ask a friend or family member who works in a different industry to see if they understand what you’ve said from a layman’s perspective.
4. Does it make sense to the reader? When you’re familiar with your subject it’s easy to get carried away and use jargon or acronyms that you use all the time, but a casual reader may not understand. In fiction, are your characters believable and behaving in the same way throughout the book? If not, compare earlier chapters to see how you’ve described them.
5.The best editing stops at the right point. Don’t keep making changes just for the sake of it, as you risk your text not making sense.